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NFL Divisional Playoffs: Ranking the 4 games this weekend

The NFL Divisional Playoffs are set with eight teams doing battle to advance to Championship Sunday.

This weekend’s slate starts out with Trevor Lawrence and the upstart Jacksonville Jaguars taking on the Kansas City Chiefs in Arrowhead at 4:30 PM ET on Saturday. That evening will include the New York Giants heading to Philadelphia for a third matchup against the Eagles this season.

Sunday’s slate kicks off with the Cincinnati Bengals and Buffalo Bills doing battle in Western New York after their Week 17 game was canceled. A rivalry is then renewed with the Dallas Cowboys going up against the red-hot San Francisco 49ers in Santa Clara Sunday afternoon at Levi’s Stadium.

All four of these games provide something of relevance. Jacksonville is coming off an AFC Wild Card win in which its overcame a 27-0 deficit against the Los Angeles Chargers. It will want to make a statement against Patrick Mahomes and the No. 1 seed Chiefs. New York handed the Minnesota Vikings an upset home loss this past Sunday and will be looking to do the same thing against a league-best Eagles team.

As for Sunday’s action, the long-awaited Bengals and Bills matchup is finally upon us. Both are seen as legitimate Super Bowl contenders. Speaking of contenders, San Francisco has won 11 consecutive games heading into an outing against a Cowboys squad that blew out Tom Brady and the Buccaneers Monday night.

Below, we rank the four games set to take place in the NFL Divisional Playoffs on Saturday and Sunday.

Related: Power rankings heading into the NFL Divisional Playoffs

4. Jacksonville Jaguars at Kansas City Chiefs

nfl divisional playoffs: jacksonville jaguars at kansas city chiefs
Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports
  • Point spread: Chiefs -8.5
  • Moneyline: Chiefs (-450), Jaguars (+350)

Kansas City hosted Jacksonville back on Nov. 13 with the home team coming away victorious by the score of 27-17. When Patrick Mahomes hit Travis Kelce late in the third quarter to give the Chiefs a three-score lead, this one was pretty much over.

Trevor Lawrence was sacked five times in the game while Mahomes threw for 331 yards and four touchdowns in the win. However, things changed dramatically for the Jaguars after that game. Doug Pederson’s squad has won seven of eight since losing to Kansas City back in Week 10.

Key stats for Jacksonville Jaguars, Kansas City Chiefs game

  • Scoring offense: Chiefs (1st), Jaguars (10th)
  • Total offense: Chiefs (1st), Jaguars (10th)
  • Scoring defense: Jaguars (12th), Chiefs (16th)
  • Total defense: Chiefs (11th), Jaguars (24th)

As you can see, Kansas City has the advantage in nearly every major statistical category in this one. Except one. Jacksonville yielded 25 passing touchdowns compared to 14 interceptions during the regular season. As for the Chiefs, their young secondary gave up a whopping 33 passing touchdowns with just 11 interceptions for an opposing QB rating of 104.7.

Obviously, one major focus heading into the NFL Divisional Playoffs will be quarterback play. The likely NFL MVP, Patrick Mahomes has the advantage here. That’s especially true after Lawrence threw a whopping four interceptions in Jacksonville’s come back win during the NFL Wild Card Playoffs.

Related: Amazing stats heading into NFL Divisional Playoffs

3. New York Giants at Philadelphia Eagles

nfl divisional playoffs: new york giants at philadelphia eagles
Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports
  • Point spread: Eagles -7.5
  • Moneyline: Eagles (-350), Giants (+275)

While Philadelphia did sweep New York during the regular season, it must be noted that the Giants rested their starters in a 22-16 Week 18 loss to the Eagles. However, the earlier matchup was no competition. Back in Week 14, Philadelphia destroyed New York by the score of 48-22 on the road. That game saw Jalen Hurts combine for five touchdowns While Daniel Jones was sacked four times before being pulled in a blowout loss.

History is not friendly to the Giants despite their wild card win over Minnesota. New York has not won in Philadelphia since all the way back in 2013. It has lost nine consecutive in the City of Brotherly Love.

Key stats for New York Giants, Philadelphia Eagles game

  • Scoring offense: Eagles (3rd), Giants (15th)
  • Total offense: Eagles (3rd), Giants (18th)
  • Scoring defense: Eagles (8th), Giants (17th)
  • Total defense: Eagles (2nd), Giants (25th)

These stats say that this game shouldn’t even be close. Add in New York’s miserable history in Philadelphia, and that’s magnified further.

But it should also be noted that Brian Daboll has his Giants playing stellar football right now. In particular, Jones is coming off a playoff debut in which he racked up nearly 400 total yards of offense. If this a close game, New York could very well pull off the upset. It heads into the NFL Divisional Playoffs at 9-4-1 in one-score games.

Related: Ranking the eight defenses for the NFL Divisional Playoffs

2. Dallas Cowboys at San Francisco 49ers

nfl divisional playoffs: dallas cowboys at san francisc 49ers
Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports
  • Point spread: 49ers -3.5
  • Moneyline: 49ers (-194), Cowboys (+162)

For the second consecutive postseason, Dallas and San Francisco will renew their rivalry from the 1980s and 1990s. Those who are a bit longer in the tooth realize how big of a game this used to be. Sunday’s matchup at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara is going to be no different.

Riding the hot hand of rookie seventh-round pick Brock Purdy, San Francisco dismantled the Seattle Seahawks in the NFC Wild Card Playoffs for an 11th consecutive win. That span has seen the 49ers average 31.5 points per game. They are also winning by an average of 16.3 points per game.

As for Dallas, its recent playoff failures have been a major point of contention over the years. The team quieted that to an extent with a blowout win over Tampa Bay in the NFL Wild Card Playoffs. Dak Prescott made franchise history with five total touchdowns en route to vastly outplaying Tom Brady.

Key stats for Dallas Cowboys, San Francisco 49ers game

  • Scoring offense: Cowboys (4th), 49ers (6th)
  • Total offense: 49ers (5th), Cowboys (11th)
  • Scoring defense: 49ers (1st), cowboys (5th)
  • Total defense: 49ers (1st), Cowboys (12th)

As you can see, these teams are pretty evenly matched heading into the NFL Divisional Playoffs. With that said, San Francisco’s defense is much more dominant than its counterpart. That included racking up 20 interceptions while allowing 20 touchdown passes. Nick Bosa led the NFL in sacks (18.5) and QB hits (48).

The interesting dynamic here is that Dak Prescott was turnover prone during the regular season before returning to form against Tampa Bay in the wild card round. In fact, he led the NFL in interceptions with 15 despite missing five games due to injury.

The same thing can’t be said about surprising 49ers rookie quarterback Brock Purdy. After taking over for an injured Jimmy Garoppolo during a Week 13 game, the seventh-round pick has tallied 18 total touchdowns compared to four interceptions. The 49ers are also averaging nearly 35 points per game in his six starts. Will Micah Parsons, Trevon Diggs and the Cowboys’ defense have an answer for this come Sunday afternoon?

Related: Ranking the eight offenses for the NFL Divisional Playoffs

1. Cincinnati Bengals at Buffalo Bills

NFL: Buffalo Bills at Cincinnati Bengals
Joseph Maiorana-USA TODAY Sports
  • Point spread: Bills -4.5
  • Moneyline: Bills (-230), Bengals (+190)

These teams were the talk of the NFL ahead of their Week 17 matchup in Cincinnati. Unfortunately, the scary scene surrounding Bills safety Damar Hamlin in the first quarter of the Monday Night Football game put everything on the backburner. Ultimately, the game was canceled. While Hamlin has improved leaps and bounds, the focus now turns to this epic matchup in the NFL Divisional Playoffs.

Cincinnati finished the regular season on an eight-game winning streak before disposing of the Baltimore Ravens in the wild card round. Buffalo had won seven in a row prior to an ugly win over Miami this past weekend.

Key stats for Cincinnati Bengals, Buffalo Bills game

  • Scoring offense: Bills (2nd), Bengals (7th)
  • Total offense: Bills (2nd), Bengals (8th)
  • Scoring defense: Bills (2nd), Bengals (6th)
  • Total defense: Bills (6th), Bengals (16th)

As you can see, Buffalo has the advantage in every category. Its pass defense yielded 21 touchdowns against 17 interceptions. The team boasted a 7-1 record at home while outscoring its opponents by a total of 107 points in those eight games.

However, Cincinnati was no joke on the road. The team won its final four road dates during the regular season. Joe Burrow also played tremendous football away from the friendly confines of Cincinnati, throwing 22 touchdowns against seven interceptions in nine starts. He actually performed much better on the road than at home.

In reality, the best game of this weekend’s NFL Divisional Playoffs will come down to quarterback play. Cincinnati has a fighting chance to repeat as conference champs, especially given Josh Allen’s turnover-prone ways recently. The early-season NFL MVP candidate committed three giveaways during Buffalo’s ugly 34-31 win over Miami last weekend and has accounted for 15 giveaways over the past 11 games.